13 March 2014

Mt. Batulao: In 7 Things

For some moments toward the start of third quarter of 2013, my taste for adventure has gone stale. I dreamt of climbing more mountains but I ended up watching series and movies instead. I was a lame creature of comfort lamely exploring the vastness of every corner of my lame bed, and occasionally, surfing the virtual space with my beloved pc. Thanks to that November Mt. Batulao climb for snapping me out of that lethargy, opening up a whole new perspective. Though, I have had mixed feelings about the whole idea at first ― on one hand I was excited to climb a Batangas mountain after a very long time, while on the other I was a little skeptical after learning about a previous accident on one of its trails. Plus, I have always had that fear of heights, in which reading articles about how that Mt. Batulao climb would go officially left me crept out. Nevertheless, worries have done no harm to stop that wanting I have been stuck myself into. So on that dawn of All Souls’ Day 2013, we drove our way further southward to Nasugbu Bats where the mountain calmly sits. 

With regards to logistics, figures, expenses, how-to-get-there, and other informative stuff, I'm sorry I won't give you those and that here. There are a lot of better blogs out there that are better at doing that. Instead, I do this: 

Hot ‘n Cold | Being an exposed/open mountain with a considerable high elevation, expect a blend of cold wind and sunlit trail throughout the climb. And while the scorching heat of the blazing sun could leave your skin darkly burnt, wish for nothing less because the moment the rain drops, an extremely muddy sail would come out that could lead to an even difficult course. In our case, we were both lucky and unlucky to experience both. We started out with a steamy climb but turned out to a chilly end. It was all muddy thereafter. We were cold, exhausted, it was cloudy. Good thing we just left off those parts of the trail where we have to walk on ridge-like mountainsides, having those infinite drop-off, before it rained, which will surely make up for a nice one-slip-and-you’re-minced-meat situation.

Rolling Slopes | Mt. Batulao is comprised of a series of uphill and downhill trails. While anticipating for that sweet step at the peak, one might think of it as an endless up and down trek before getting into that strenuously fulfilling assault towards the summit. The alternating ascent and descent every now and then gives a tiring roller-coaster feel physically letting its climbers re-learn a classic life lesson, I’m sure we all already know about.

Romancing The Stones | The phrase, among any other if there’s any, is probably most famously associated with Mt. Batulao. There are actual parts of the trail starting from camp 9 up until the last stretches of the climb, where you have to literally have that inevitable romantic interaction with stones perfectly placed on those steep trails. Or not, lol.

Dancing Greens | The scenery all throughout the entire trail is almost the same, characterized by a nearly tree-less range that succumbs down to a lush of greens. The vastness of the foothills is covered by those grasses in synchronized waveform against the strong winds across the slope providing an effortlessly huge visual entertainment, the nature’s way. And this is probably one of the many reasons Mt. Batulao earned that distinction of being one of the most impressive mountains in Southern Luzon.

Rocks & Rolls | The mountain range landscape itself is its best asset. The knife-edge picturesque of the rocky peaks and the death-defying steep trails are exceptionally mind-blowing. Mt. Batulao climb, more than a physical activity, is actually a test of character – a test one has to fully accept to take. In fact, it’s deadly, in which everyone should be aware that a single wrong step could result in a grave effect as rolling over those steep cliffs and rocky ravines. The danger is always there, but with careful planning, unwavering focus, and an eager heart, everything should turn out well.

People Along The Way | Being tagged as one of the more popular mountain destinations near Metro Manila, a huge number of climbers is expected to have their weekends spent there. At the expense of a few minutes of conversation, coupled with a good disposition, warm hearts, and sweet smiles, expect to meet new acquaintances. After all, it’s not too strange to build friendships on mountain trails; especially with people you have a common denominator with, which of course is, mountain climbing.

Beyond Mt. Batulao | At certain points of time, much more curious than those who actually ask, I came face to face with the question of why I climb mountains. And more often than not, I don’t get myself a proper answer either. More so, questions such as what the hell I am doing there when in fact I could be at home, safe and sound and so on, clouds up my mind. Or I could actually get myself indulged to safer destinations other than mountains as there are lots of great beaches and turquoise waters throughout those hundreds of pristine islands across Ph. But still, the wondrous attraction mountains have, never ceased to have a spell on me. There is always that abstract feeling while conquering a mountain and seeing the world from a totally insane perspective, that I still could not, ever, explain what and why. Maybe it’s the fact that as I climb, my thoughts bring me to places beyond what’s real, partially leaving the littlest of worries behind those trails. Maybe it’s not me that conquers the mountain after all, it might be the mountain that conquers me, or me that conquers myself, as I constantly learn and re-learn those basic things and realizations I ponder when I’m away from the buzz of the busy and crowded streets. Whatever those reasons are, I wish to further not know. That feeling of falling in love with nature all over again every after climb should surely suffice. Because that feeling could never be defined in any way that would leave me satisfied.

Mt. Batulao counts as my 11th mountain-climb. But the excitement, even when I'm writing this, feels like it's still a first time. 

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